Wet-on-Wet Painting Techniques


A wet-on-wet painting technique explores the creative possibilities of the watercolor medium. Using water and diluted or watercolor paint, the artist can experiment with a natural yet unpredictable of color dispersion and effects. The technique can be used to create a background, or as a focal point on a flower. Or use this watercolor method to crate fuzzy-edged images by painting lines directly into the water. Colors may be mixed and blended directly on the paper using this painting technique.


  • Learn a proper washing technique before experimenting with wet-into-wet. A wash technique covers a large portion of the paper, or a large section. The same process is relevant to both techniques. Secure a piece of heavy watercolor paper to a board with tape. Load a large, round brush with watercolor paint and tilt the board. Brush the paint along the top of the paper, watching the bulk of the paint and water drop to the bottom of the line. Repeat with a second horizontal stroke, overlapping the first, to create a seamless wash. Continue down the entire paper to create a uniform wash.


  • To create an entire painting using the wet-into-wet technique, follow the instructions for the wash, except use a clean brush and water, without the paint. This will give the paper a consistent dampness without creating puddles or deep lines of water.

    Use a different brush, loaded with paint, to start the image. Blend colors by using another clean brush dipped into another watercolor hue and paint near the first color. The closer the colors are, the more they will blend. To retain more of each original color, leave more space between each color.

    Create small areas of wet-into-wet, for flowers or water, by wetting only the part of the paper that you want to use the wet-into-wet technique.

Special Effects

  • Gain more control over how the paint flows into the water, with ox gallo. Winsor & Newton recommends adding a couple of drops of the ox gall to the water before brushing or dropping in the paint for a wet-into-wet technique.

    Adding table salt to the paint while it is still wet will change the way the paint looks when it is dried. Gently brush off the salt when the painting is dry to reveal the crystal-like residual effect created by the granules of salt.

    Prepare the watercolor paper with masking fluid where you want to retain the white of the paper. Follow the wet-into-wet techniques and peel off the dry masking fluid when the entire painting is dry, to reveal the raw paper.

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